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Edition #245 May 1, 2015
Photo by Tom Granville
A good friend of mine asked me "Hey, do you want to go to WV Rails this year? Maybe make a railfan weekend of it? Hit the Cumberland area and Magnolia Cutoff?" I had never been east of Cumberland and had always seen shots from Magnolia, so I said sure.
We got to Cumberland early on Thursday and decided to head straight down to Paw Paw to start our Magnolia adventure. While waiting for a train at Carothers Tunnel, I was thumbing through an old Railpace article on the Magnolia cutoff and I saw a photo and told my friend "I want this shot." The map showed a rough location of it. After making a few phone calls and a Facebook posting, we had some more finite directions, but they were still sketchy at best. We decided that it would be Fridayís adventure.
Friday comes and we poke around some more on the cutoff and grab lunch before we head out to find this shot. We start to follow the directions and quickly realize that my Charger might not make it through some spots on the road. At one point, I hit a culvert that caused the car to pitch to the right and water come up over the hood. But we made it deep into the woods where we were met with a locked gate. We got out of the car into the 95 degree heat, pack our camera bags, throw some water into our backpacks and off we went into the West Virginia wilderness with a magazine map, and a GPS.
We slowly made our way through the forest. The rattlesnake, copperhead, and black bear filled forest. I hate snakes, but I didnít care. I wanted this shot. We stopped frequently to check our bearings on the GPS and the map. After an hour into the 15-20 minute walk (what we were told by a friend) we came to a small clearing in the trees overlooking the Potomac River and the railroad. Now all we needed was a train.
We could hear for miles from this vantage point and we kept hearing trains coming west, which made for a good picture, but not the one we wanted. Finally a train started calling signals coming east. By now the light was as good as it was going to get. We could see him snaking along the tracks in the distance. Finally he came into view. A few quick clicks of the shutter. Mission accomplished. Lucky for us, because this was the last eastbound for 4 hours. The walk back was a little easier, but still tough, but what I had on my camera made the whole trip worth it.
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